Showing posts with label editor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editor. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The irreplaceable editor

There's something I need to say.

You know how people -- mostly in corporations and crap -- say no one is irreplaceable? That's bulls***. The folks in North Platte, Neb., learned how irreplaceable Keith Blackledge was when he retired as editor of the North Platte Telegraph.

They learned how irreplaceable he was when he was no longer at the little daily newspaper, and no longer was taking punk kids right out of college and turning them into grown-up reporters and editors who, frankly, learned more in North Platte than they had in several years of journalism school. North Platte also learned how irreplaceable Keith was when -- suddenly -- the little newspaper that could . . . couldn't. Well, at least not nearly so much as it had under the steady -- and sometimes bemused -- leadership of Keith Blackledge.

People learned how irreplaceable one newspaper editor was when he no longer sat in that corner office at the Telegraph. When he no longer could will, it seemed, a little city to do what needed to be done, establish what needed to be established and build what needed to be built.

They also learned how irreplaceable Keith was when he grew too frail to serve on the approximately 98 trillion committees and boards he had served on for decades and decades.

AND NOW we all are learning how irreplaceable Keith Blackledge is as a presence in our lives -- as a living example of how to love the place where God has put you, do a job to the best of your ability and then teach your charges how to do that, too. We're learning that because time waits for no man -- not even Keith -- and it finally has taken that presence away from us.

We can't replace it. We can't replace the best damned boss we ever had -- those of us who were blessed enough to pass through the Telegraph newsroom on our way to somewhere, alas, not as good.

Almost three decades ago, a know-it-all, smartass kid from way south of the Mason-Dixon Line trekked out to the Sandhills of Nebraska to give Keith Blackledge a spring and a summer of hard work, some more-or-less decent news stories and, no doubt, a serious case -- or 20 -- of acid indigestion, with the odd migraine thrown in as lagniappe.

In return, Keith gave me a graduate-level, hands-on education in community journalism, a well-deserved ass-chewing or two, several friends for life . . . and my dear wife of 27 years -- the wire editor I stole from him on my way out the door.

I got the better end of the deal. Keith, meantime, was left holding an IOU I couldn't repay, not even if I had six lifetimes to try.

At the wedding shower, he also gave me the best advice I've ever gotten. Keith advised me that I should take care of all the monumental things in Mrs. Favog's and my marriage -- you know, world peace, geopolitics, erasing the national debt and divining the meaning of life -- while letting my new bride handle everything else. You know, like what I'll wear, where I'll go, where we'd live, what we'd eat, when I should just shut the hell up . . . stuff like that.

So far, it's worked out pretty damned well.

Except that I just broke Keith's rule about cussing in the newsroom.

I only can hope that the best damned newspaperman ever will forgive me this one last transgression. After all, I was -- and am -- replaceable.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All the twits that are fit to diss?

Imagine you're the editor of a major metropolitan newspaper . . . OK, editor of the metropolitanest of major metropolitan newspapers.

Imagine that you need to announce that your managing editor is going to step away from that job for six months to run the paper's online operations. Imagine likewise that you also are announcing that three editors will take turns filling in for her.

AND WHILE you're at it, can you imagine any good reason to throw the following lines into the staff memo? The New York Times' Bill Keller could:
No doubt this rotation will be widely analyzed, interpreted and speculated about. (I look forward to hearing and reading a lot of entertaining nonsense.)

"I think you're all a bunch of petty, nonsensical morons" like immediately assuming the worst of your staff -- and everyone else -- then giving the impression you're explaining the process only because you know people will be coming up with all that "entertaining nonsense," not that that will stop the idiots.

And if the boss has so little confidence in his charges at The New York Times -- America's "newspaper of record," why should we? For what nonsensical reason, in that case, should we bother reading a publication put together by such a collection of dolts and gossips?

For what insane reason would an editor feel the need to say something like that in a staff memo, and say it so . . . gratuitously?

NO DOUBT, this memo
will be widely analyzed, interpreted and speculated about. One only can hope (for the sake of the Times) that the easiest conclusion to draw -- that its author is a smug jerk who isn't exactly building an institutional culture conducive to success -- is just a lot of entertaining nonsense.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We were journalists once, and young

There are many ways to tell our stories . . . and the stories of others like us.

For me, this is a new way of doing what I've been doing for most of my life. In other words, video is not my native language.

"Tough," says the new-media universe. Learn some new languages.

OK, I think I will. And, in a roundabout manner, that's one of the points of this video -- the awful costs of a tragic failure of imagination . . . and adaptation.